Yanks fall out of 1st place with 5th straight loss

First place no longer belongs to the Yankees, and they have no one to blame but themselves. The scoring deficiencies continued Wednesday night as they managed only four hits in a 2-1 loss to the Indians. That is nine runs in the past seven games for the Yanks, who dropped out of the top spot in the American League East for the first time since July 1.

The Blue Jays pushed their winning streak to 10 games with yet another resounding victory over the Athletics, 10-3, to nudge a half-game ahead of the Yankees in the standings. While it is true that the Yankees still have one fewer loss than Toronto they now have two fewer victories that the juggernaut they will face again this weekend at Rogers Centre after completing the three-game series at Cleveland Thursday.

The Yankees have no beef with their pitching, which once more kept them in the game. CC Sabathia, back in his former stomping grounds at Progressive Field, went six innings the night after the Yankees needed eight pitchers to get through a 16-inning loss. He gave his teammates needed length and quality as well.

Sabathia was touched for nine hits but only two runs as the Tribe stranded seven base runners and had 2-for-12 (.167) with runners in scoring position in his time on the mound. But with the Yankees scoring only one run Sabathia was hung with the losing decision that dropped his record to 4-9.

Brian McCann blasted his way out of a 0-for-16 slump with a home run in the second inning, but Indians starter Danny Salazar did not run into trouble again until the seventh but worked out of it. With runners on second and third and one out, Salazar retired Didi Gregorius on a pop in front of the mound and struck out Chris Young.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi could have pinch-hit for Young in that spot with Jacoby Ellsbury, who did not start, but chose not to. I cannot second-guess the skipper there. Ellsbury was benched for good reasons: he is in a 0-for-19 slide and is hitting .178 in 118 at-bats since coming off the disabled list July 8 as his season batting average has plummeted from .324 to .260.

Salazar walked Brett Gardner and Chase Headley with one out in the eighth, but Cody Allen came on and got Alex Rodriguez to ground into a double play. The Yankees’ only threat in the ninth was when McCann reached first base on a third-strike wild pitch. John Ryan Murphy ran for him but was stationary as Carlos Beltran lined out to left and Gregorius struck out.

The Yankees had another solid defensive game, especially Gregorius at shortstop who has been the lone shining light in this dreary stretch of five straight losses. But he took a 0-for-4 collar as part of the slender offensive showing.

The dog days of August are begging to take their toll on Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the 3-4 hitters whose turnaround seasons from suspension and injury, respectively, were primary reasons the Yankees had been in first place for the better part of six weeks. A-Rod is batting .162 with two doubles and two RBI in 37 at-bats this month and Tex is hitting .175 with two home runs and four RBI in 40 at-bats.

At the top of the order, Ellsbury and Gardner, who had been the catalysts earlier in the year, are a combined 3-for-39 (.077) with zero runs scored or stolen bases in the losing streak. There is no mystery as to what is sinking the Yankees right now. It is all right there in those unsightly statistics.

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